04 Nov 2021

Re-opening after lockdown and the resurgence of Diet Culture


If recovery has taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t realise how conditioned diet culture is, until you’re no longer immersed in it. If I was to be completely honest, even in recovery, there are times where it’s pervasiveness is overwhelming. Currently, this is one of those times for me.

Right now in Melbourne, society is opening up. I’m starting to see friends and family again, I’m beginning to book dinners at my favourite restaurants, tickets for events and festivals are for sale, and our borders are opening to allow for travel. Essentially, my life is no longer on pause, and that should be an exciting, liberating feeling… except I am finding it exceptionally daunting and challenging.

Like I previously mentioned, you don’t realise the extent of diet culture’s conditioning until you have fostered awareness of it. Like many others, I built this awareness during my recovery and have carried it with me beyond that point. However, diet culture is inherently linked to society, and as society opens up, diet culture expands. After some time of enduring lockdowns and being encapsulated within my ‘recovery bubble’ (as I like to call it), its sudden reoccurrence has been accompanied with some level of shock.

I’ve started receiving texts and emails from old gym memberships and hearing about ‘hot girl summers’. I’ve heard family and friends berate their post-covid body and appearance. I’ve begun to fear the impending comments or thoughts on my own appearance upon seeing people after a long stint indoors. I’ve also realised how deeply diet culture is internalised, and then projected onto others. Our self-dissatisfaction as a collective is alarming, not only because it is irrevocably disheartening, but also insanely contagious.

Upon this reflection, I guess it is no surprise that I am feeling ‘caught up’ again. I feel somewhat ashamed of my body, scared to put it into the world again. The thing is, I don’t find solace in the fact that I am far from alone in feeling this way, but rather it makes me feel disappointed. It makes me want more for us, and I’m sure in your own advocacy, that you want the same.

However, we are also human, and a part of the human experience is to find some level of self- acceptance and worth amongst all this noise. By sharing my current feelings, I am hoping to show you that even in recovery, even when you know better, linearity does not exist. We are going to have moments of self-dissatisfaction, and that is ok.

I’ll admit, sometimes I feel this perpetuating loneliness and sense of being ‘left behind’ by not participating in aesthetic-driven goals. But then I remember that my identity is something intrinsic, and is extrinsically apparent through what I do, what I say and who I am.

Being my ‘best self’ is not akin to losing weight, being the smallest I can be, and being idolised by the male gaze. It is not something I need to find, it is something already within.

I think a big part of recovery is remembering that, even in times where the heaviness of diet culture is prevalent, that dismissing this noise allows you to show up as simply ourselves rather than the fabricated version we are taught to desire. As cliché and overused as it is, your worth truly isn’t defined by some trivial precedent that tells you to change.

I’m also saying that if you are feeling this heaviness like I am, that it’s ok. However, I am reminding you (and myself) to continue coming back to the self-acceptance that you have found throughout your experience so far. I am also reminding you to enjoy the freedoms to come, to enjoy your life and know that you deserve to do so, despite the fears diet culture has imposed.

Written by Butterfly Collective member, Kiara Stojanoski


Helpful tips for re-emerging from lockdown and reducing the impact of diet culture:

If you’re feeling anxious about re-entering society because of your body image or eating behaviours, talking helps. Reach out to our Helpline of qualified and compassionate counsellors for support. 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673), via webchat or email support@butterfly.org.au | 7 days a week, 8am-midnight (AEDT). 

Related tags: Anxiety COVID diet culture Eating disorder recovery lockdown Recovery reduce diet culture

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